MnDOT officials talk trust, communication

OPH, Bayport, business owners, residents meet with bridge staff

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — The words “trust” and “communication” were used a lot by Minnesota Department of Transportation officials Tuesday at Oak Park Heights City Hall.

MnDOT officials with the St. Croix Crossing bridge project said they intend to keep business owners, residents and city officials apprised of all bridge-related work and work to regain their trust as work prepares to start on the Minnesota approach to the bridge on Minnesota 36.

“We need to re-establish trust with people. That’s going to be our goal,” said Project Director Jon Chiglo. “To communicate with you promptly and effectively.”

Chiglo and other MnDOT staff on the project faced an Oak Park Heights City Council chambers filled with business owners, residents and Oak Park Heights and Bayport council members at an hour-long open house.

The message from Oak Park Heights city officials at the session was that residents and businesses can bring questions and concerns about the project to the council.
“It’s been requested by the Oak Park Heights City Council someone from MnDOT be at our council meetings,” said Mayor Mary McComber.

“If you’ve got a question, come to our meetings, ask your question or make your statement and we’ll try to get an answer,” added Councilman Mike Runk.

MnDOT officials told those at the open house the agency is using a variety of methods to get project-related messages to businesses and residents. Project spokeswoman Mary Brooks McFarland urged residents to visit MnDOT’s web and Facebook sites and consider signing up for the Washington County Sheriff’’s Office CodeRED message system.
“We’re going to be using CodeRED. CodeRED will pinpoint messages to one business or area.”

MnDOT officials said the agency’s project office office at 1862 S. Greeley St. will be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended hours to 7 p.m. Tuesdays for residents and business owners to visit and ask questions.

“You don’t have to call for an appointment. We’ll have staff there,” Chiglo said.
MnDOT staff also plan more open houses and face-to-face meetings with business owners to discuss concerns about the project.

Chiglo also said that Ames/Lunda was awarded the contract for Minnesota approach work by MnDOT Monday.

“They’re very familiar with design-build. In general context, they will start with the mainline Highway 36 this year and the frontage roads next year,” Chiglo said.

Ames/Lunda is a partnership of Ames Construction Co. of Burnsville and Lunda Construction Co of Black River Falls, Wis.

Chiglo said some MN 36 work would be done in the evening or overnight, but it would not be high-impact or noisy.

MN 36 would be reduced to one-lane in each direction during construction and intersections at South Greeley Street-Oakgreen Avenue and Osgood Avenue will be closed for 12 days each, but would not be closed at the same time, Chiglo said. Access to businesses along MN 36 would be maintained, he added.

Chiglo said MnDOT would work with the Minnesota State Patrol on extra speed enforcement in work zones and inspections of heavy trucks hauling materials on Minnesota 95.

Chiglo also advised boat owners that MnDOT would seek channel and wake restrictions in the bridge work area on the St. Croix River.

Finally, Chiglo told his audience that the design-build method MnDOT will use on the project make the work proceed quickly once started.

“Things move quickly on these types of projects. It’s an accelerated method. When things start in the field, we have some flexibility to change them,” he said.